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How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix Analysis



Author: Poetry of Robert Browning Type: Poetry Views: 1221

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I.



I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;

``Good speed!'' cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;

``Speed!'' echoed the wall to us galloping through;

Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,

And into the midnight we galloped abreast.



II.



Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace

Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;

I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,

Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,

Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,

Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.



III.



'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near

Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;

At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;

At D<u:>ffeld,'twas morning as plain as could be;

And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,

So, Joris broke silence with, ``Yet there is time!''



IV.



At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,

And against him the cattle stood black every one,

To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past,

And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,

With resolute shoulders, each hutting away

The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:



V.



And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back

For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;

And one eye's black intelligence,---ever that glance

O'er its white edge at me, his own master,askance!

And the thick heavy spume-flakes which ayeand anon

His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.



VI.



By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ``Stay spur!

``Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault'snot in her,

``We'll remember at Aix''---for one heard the quick wheeze

Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,

And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,

As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.



VII.



So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,

Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;

The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,

'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;

Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,

And ``Gallop,'' gasped Joris, ``for Aix is in sight!''



VIII.



``How they'll greet us!''---and all in a moment his roan

Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;

And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight

Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,

With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,

And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.



IX.



Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,

Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,

Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,

Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;

Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,

Till at length into Aix Roland galloped andstood.



X.



And all I remember is---friends flocking round

As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;

And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,

As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,

Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)

Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.










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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Somewhere a very long time ago I heard the words of the title "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix," which I blurted out in a conversation recently as an come-back in a chat. When I was pinned (justifiably I admit)as to "what news?" I figured I better find out.
Sooo, now I have read the actual poem and what a great experience. I think it is splendid. The erudite analyses before my ignorant but enthusiastic comment here are excellent and since I was trying to find out what the "good news" was I think it just might be the minibit of knowledge I acquired over and above the riveting and stirring ride itself.
To find that it was Robert Browning who was the poet was a surprise... he has been memorable for me. "A Woman's Last Word" is a delight, but "My Last Duchess" is, I think, more profound than most scholars would have us believe.
When I was young I read everything of his that came my way, and sadly have not for years since... but, "...too soon made glad" was a phrase that stayed with me.
Thank all of you posters for your comments... Browning came alive for me again.

| Posted on 2010-02-13 | by a guest


.: :.

Here are some thoughts:
1) it is pretty well established in literary circles that the events referred to in the poem were wholly imaginary, thus efforts to identify just exactly what the good news was will not be rewarded.
2) Browning wrote the poem with a rhythm suggestive of cantering on a horse. Actually the subjects are supposed to be galloping - technically a different pace, smoother than a canter and without the same "up down" motion suggested by the poem's rhythm. Perhaps we can allow this discrepancy under the heading "poetic license."
3) While what "I" do on the horse at the beginning sounds technically impressive, I doubt whether in practice anyone could actually adjust (tighten ?) the girth (the strap that goes under the horse's chest and holds the saddle on) while at a full gallop. It is equally unlikely that anyone would try to "re-buckle the cheek strap." This is a strap that is part of the harness and is normally untouched unless the harness needs to be adjusted to fit the horse. It is unclear as to what "re-buckling" would achieve. This all suggests that we should not take the details too seriously - that we are merely invited to relax and be carried away by the rhythm and drama of the poem.
Pontefractious

| Posted on 2009-09-18 | by a guest


.: Browning's poem :.

Sorry if I'm bottom-posting but it's the very first time
I've visited this website.
The immediate poster above has his own interpretation of the poem, which he admits to not having read.
The immediate poster above then launches into a
tirade about the name "Joris". Enough said, this idiot
has already revealed the fact that he didn't read the poem and then presumes to tell us about the later stages of the poem in which "the horses become bored with their rides" ROTFLMAO
From what I recall from my highschool history classes
a treaty was signed in the Belgian city of Ghent in 1812 or thereabouts. The main purpose of the peace treaty was to end the war in North America between
the new nation of the U.S.A. and the British armed forces who still administered the new nation of Canada.
There might well have been some major side benefits
to the signing of the treaty - Britain and France were
still in a death-struggle over territory in Europe and
Belgium had been largely spared from warfare on their land. That would change really quickly in 1914.

I am certainly no expert historian, just an old
guy who wishes he had completed his History degree
30 years ago.

I'm fairly sure that Browning's poem was based on facts as he knew them at the time- The Treaty of Ghent
had been signed and the information had to be passed on
to cities that would probably on the front line of a new
war had the treaty not been signed.

Anyway to change pace completely I regard this poem
by Browning as an outstanding example of poetry of his
era- heartfelt, well-rhymed, short, in all a good story
well-told.


All fer now

Paul Devoe


Approved Guest who posted on 2005-12-20 might want
to cease his use of alcohol and drugs so that his next
post could be rational and coherent???

| Posted on 2007-10-12 | by a guest


.: :.

This is a GREAT poem, just for its own sake !You do not have to have a Degree in English to just LOVE it.COURAGE in all its forms, is a most admirable quality, and the horses, particularly Roland , have it in abundance !So DONT disect the poem, and worry about the whys and wherefores, just ENJOY !
Try the Revenge also !

| Posted on 2007-09-04 | by a guest


.: :.

This is a GREAT poem, just for its own sake !You do not have to have a Degree in English to just LOVE it.COURAGE in all its forms, is a most admirable quality, and the horses, particularly Roland , have it in abundance !So DONT disect the poem, and worry about the whys and wherefores, just ENJOY !
Try the Revenge also !

| Posted on 2007-09-04 | by a guest


.: This Review :.

This is a most arrogant review of poetry. The first thing to consider is that not all poetry has some grievance towards humanity, and that this one is also a story in the form of a ballad. How the reviewer believes that the name “Joris” reflects any importance, is absurd. The horses were also clearly not “tired and bored” with their riders. The approximate distance from Ghent to Aix (Aachen) Germany, is 201km. If the horses are traveling all night (as the poem implies) for 10 hours, they would be moving at about 20km/h. I highly doubt the horses would be tired and bored—they would be dying from that distance! They were falling either from faint or (the second fall of the second horse) death. (“lay dead as a stone”, stanza eight, line two)

I cannot say what the “good news” is, but depending on the word “fate”, and looking at a timeline, the poem was written not long after the Franco-German War, in which the Belgians (in the French-speaking Wallonia) had limited involvement but their fate could’ve been changed forever from the war. Based on these facts, I believe that “How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix” is a historical ballad, reflecting the carrying of news (unknown) from the city of Ghent to Aix.

The horses, not the riders, are the focus of the story. Almost every line is dedicated to the ride, the suspense that is to drive the poem forward. I am also quite stunned that the reviewer bothered saying, “The main things to remember is that I haven't read the poem.” which implies s/he never heard of it. A reading of this poem, (by the author, Robert Browning) is the first ever recording of a human’s voice to be heard after death. I am convinced, then, that the review is largely invalid due to the reviewer not knowing what s/he is talking about. Further, from the facts gathered surrounding the poem, many of the opinions of the previous review are undoubtedly wrong.

IOW, don't believe a word of it.

| Posted on 2007-04-18 | by a guest


.: :.

THe importance of Aix is monumental in establishing the good news from Ghent in which the three riders are carrying for a unknown reason. The main things to remember is that I haven't read the poem. I stumbled across this website and found that it was generally useless. But my analysis will remain to be the best thing here. In the third section, the Joris breaks the silence which sets up the metaphor of the human condition. Joris is a important name because it has universal implications and understanding. The name Joris is used in 93 different countires including Canada, USA, England, Germany, Japan, Poland and Lithuania. The plot shifts however later on as the horses become tired and bored with their rides.

| Posted on 2005-12-20 | by Approved Guest




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